Being the parent of a child in substance use disorder recovery is something that is becoming more common across America. As the opioid crisis continues from coast to coast, many parents are going through the pain of watching their kids of any age struggle with addiction. If you’re lucky enough to see your child through treatment and recovery, there are various changes that will occur and shift the family’s dynamic. It’s important to recognize and prepare for these events to ensure you are able to support them in a healthy and positive way.
It’s not unnatural to wish everything could “go back to normal” once your child has completed treatment and entered recovery, but it is unrealistic. There are going to be many necessary changes required to help them get their bearings as they rediscover their new selves without the effects of substances on their brains and bodies. The relationship dynamic they previously held with various family members will shift, particularly depending on that person’s role prior and during the height of their addiction. Allow them to make these adjustments to feel more comfortable when the family is together. This is also a good time for family therapy to help recreate or reinforce positive bonds with healthy boundaries.
Previously, your child’s main focus was their substance use, and the drug was a priority above all else. Recovery has now opened their reschedule, allowing for more activities and interests to enter their lives to help rebuild their mental, emotional, and physical state. It’s not uncommon for them to develop routines that help keep them on schedule and focused on their recovery work, which sometimes may mean they won’t be around the family as often or for as long as you’d like. Allow them to figure out a harmonic balance of activities as they establish routines that make them feel healthy and productive.
Ups and Downs
Though you feel your child has been given a new lease on life, there will still be some really good days and some really bad days during their recovery process. Even with counseling, group work, and positive reinforcement from friends and family, there will be days where they feel angry, depressed, lonely, isolated, or simply not in a good mood without expressing any reason. This shouldn’t be a cause for panic necessarily; it’s vital for them to work through these challenges using the coping skills they learned and developed through their work in recovery thus far. Used these mental mechanisms is much like exercising a muscle, so allowing them to tackle the dark days will help them become stronger.
Unfortunately, relapse is a very real part of recovery. Reoccurrence doesn’t mean failure, it’s merely a small stumble along a very long and path. If your child slips back into substance use, it doesn’t mean all of their previous hard work goes out the window. They can regain control with the proper treatment steps, depending on how long their relapse use lasts. Developing a strong bond with your child before such a situation can help make them feel comfortable coming to you if they do experience relapse so you can help redirect them quickly to get back on track.
Knowing what to expect when your child enters recovery after treating their addiction can prepare you to support them through their new journey in life. Remember to remain empathetic and supportive through the process as they work to become better every day. For more information or to begin treatment, contact us today.